Home & Design: Best of the Best Architects: Charles Gwathmey, Gwathmey Siegel & Associates
“I’m a modernist at heart, absolutely,” says Charles Gwathmey, who names Le Corbusier, Louis Kahn, and James Stirling as his influences. “Modernism means being part of a creative continuum. It’s the obligation of art to look forward, to discover what’s beyond, to never replicate what went before.” Gwathmey and his partner, Robert Siegel, started their practice in 1968 with a groundbreaking geometric house in Amagansett, on Long Island, for Gwathmey’s parents. That would lead to the oceanfront house in East Hampton for art collector Francois de Menil, which has a three-story-high entrance gallery. They have since tackled residences on both coasts for Steven Spielberg, Universal Pictures head Ron Meyer, and film producers Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall, as well as museums, libraries, corporate headquarters, college campuses, and medical centers. “I am rooted in New York, but I travel to California at least once a month,” says Gwathmey. “The light and climate are obviously different—there are no extremes of freeze and thaw, so you have greater flexibility of materials. And the West Coast is more experimental, more risk-taking, and much more supportive of modernism.” The office now offers interior design ser-vices as an integral part of the design process. The partners have dabbled in products—in the 1980s they were among the first architects called on to create a line of tableware, vases, and candlesticks for Swid Powell, they have designed desks and credenzas for Knoll and rugs for V’Soske. But right now they are working on more serious matters: the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass., and a renovation and expansion of the New York Public Library.
Charles Gwathmey, Gwathmey Siegel & Associates, 212.947.1240,